Visitors to Colonial Williamsburg expect to see history interpreters in period-appropriate attire, craftspeople demonstrating skills essential to the era, and residences that show how Colonial Americans lived. But on certain days this year, they can also see how nationally known designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas brought Williamsburg’s oldest house – the Nelson-Galt House – into the twenty-first century as a showhouse and her home away from home.

And H.J. Holtz & Son was a partner and sponsor of the project.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Designer in Residence program is a collaborative initiative established by WILLIAMSBURG, the licensing brand of Colonial Williamsburg. The effort launched in 2019, when the first Designer in Residence, Anthony Baratta, redecorated the eighteenth-century Palmer House. As the second Designer in Residence home, the Nelson-Galt House, parts of which date to 1695, opened its doors for tours in December 2022.

The Designer in Residence program was conceived with twin goals: to show visitors how an older home’s history can coexist with modern-day style, and to showcase the traditionally inspired decor – furniture, paint, and wallpaper – that the WILLIAMSBURG brand has created with business partners.

“How do you make tradition and today work together?” posits Liza Gusler, associate director for WILLIAMSBURG Licensing. “One of our challenges now is to show people that eighteenth-century design is still relevant; it can be inviting and comfortable for a family to live in today.”

Using its extensive archives, WILLIAMSBURG has partnered with Benjamin Moore, Schumacher, Paul Montgomery, and Adelphi Paper Hangings on proprietary paint colors, fabrics, and wallpaper. Inspiration comes from archaeological finds, rare books and prints depicting scenes of the time period, and historic buildings. A 1750s silk gown worn by Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, who married George Washington in 1759, inspired the new Dandridge Damask by Schumacher.

While much of the work on the interior of the Nelson-Galt house was handled by Colonial Williamsburg’s staff – “We have to follow stringent strictures with our preservation team about what we can do and what we can’t do,” Gusler says – H.J. Holtz & Son wallpaper craftspeople were hired to install all the wallpaper selected by Hillegas.

“It’s a compliment to Holtz’s reputation when I share that it was sort of a command from our facilities and maintenance vice president [that we hire Holtz],” Gusler says. “The team could not have been nicer; they were very professional.”

The team’s job wasn’t small.

In the living room, the team hung a WILLIAMSBURG Kensington Whitework mural by Paul Montgomery, which was inspired by a pair of late seventeenth-century embroidered curtains in Colonial Williamsburg’s collection. In the dining room, the team installed a panoramic Paul Montgomery mural, Regency Views, wrapping it around three walls with multiple interruptions caused by entryways and windows. A first-floor hallway and adjacent powder room feature a custom iteration of WILLIAMSBURG Jefferson Trellis by Adelphi Paper Hangings. Adelphi crafts papers in the eighteenth-century manner, using a separate block to print each color.

On the second floor of the house’s annex, the hallway and a bathroom sport a modern Kumano Jute covering in Putty from Schumacher. Upstairs in the original house, the blue-and-white twin bedroom showcases Lafayette Botanical, a new WILLIAMSBURG Shumacher chintz pattern, which covers the walls as well as headboards and bed frames. A nearby second-floor bathroom is papered in Front Waltz in Sage by Schumacher.

As the largest living history museum in the country, Colonial Williamsburg takes its mission of bringing history to life, Gusler says.

“We think the Nelson-Galt House is a good opportunity to showcase the WILLIAMSBURG brand and help people understand we are still relevant today,” Gusler says. “We are so thankful for our partners and sponsors, including H.J. Holtz & Son.”

To purchase tickets for upcoming tour dates in the Nelson-Galt House, visit The sale of WILLIAMSBURG products supports Colonial Williamsburg’s educational and preservation mission.






Photo courtesy of Todd Wright

The homes presented in the Garden Club of Virginia’s 2023 Historic Garden Week share many characteristics: they have elegant spaces, they have carefully designed plantings, and they are impeccably maintained, inside and out.

H.J. Holtz & Son is proud to have helped numerous homeowners through the years – including two on this year’s tour – prepare their homes for the hundreds of HGW ticket-holders who come every spring to see not only their gardens, but also their homes. Holtz craftsmanship will also be on display this year in Charlottesville at Carr’s Hill, the residence of the president of the University of Virginia.

“We know our clients want to show their homes at their best every day,” says company president Rick Holtz. “Garden Week takes that up a notch, because these are public tours.”

The origins of Historic Garden Week date to 1927, when the Garden Club of Virginia hosted a flower show to raise money to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson at his mountaintop home of Monticello. That first effort netted $7,000 – the equivalent to roughly $117,000 today. In 1928, the club raised money to help save Kenmore, the Fredericksburg-area home of Betty Washington Lewis, George Washington’s sister. In 1929, multiple houses and gardens were opened for a “pilgrimage,” with ticket prices going to fund restorations of historic properties and gardens throughout the state. This year’s Garden Week comprises 29 tours organized and hosted by members of clubs from Virginia Beach to Roanoke, from Martinsville to Middleburg.

Richmond, as in years past, has three tour days: April 18, 19, and 20. Tuesday’s tour, in the Westhampton neighborhood, includes 6407 Roselawn, where the Holtz team has assisted with painting and carpentry work. Thursday’s tour, along Three Chopt Road, includes 6207 Three Chopt, another property where Holtz craftspeople have completed projects.

Company president Holtz says he’s always pleased when a client reaches out for assistance prior to Garden Week. “It’s usually someone we’ve worked with in the past, who knows we can come in for touch-ups,” he says. “Sometimes, people will use the fact that their home is going to be on tour as a reason to do a project they’ve been putting off, like painting exterior trim or shutters, or the front door. Everyone wants their home to look good as people are walking up to the entrance.”

It’s common for homeowners to think about improvements prior to big life events, such as a wedding, graduation, retirement party, or the birth of a child. Rick Holtz advises those considering fresh painting or wall coverings as well as carpentry repair – which is managed by the in-house Holtz carpenters – to reach out well in advance of the special occasion, so there’s ample time to complete the project.

“You don’t want to rush into making decisions about color or décor,” he notes. “From our years in business, we know that a selected paint color, once it’s on the wall, may appear to be a different hue, based on the way the light is hitting it. We all want time to make sure that the final project is done to everyone’s satisfaction.”

For more information about the 2023 Historic Garden Week, visit Tickets are $50 per day if purchased in advance; $60 per day at the tour headquarters.  



Lizzie Cox’s clients knew they wanted to revitalize their comfortable river place … but not too much.

“The key theme throughout was to maintain the integrity of the old charm of the cottage,” says Cox, principal of Lizzie Cox Interiors in Richmond. “We wanted to update and refresh it without losing character.”

Cox recommended H.J. Holtz & Son to the client after having worked with Holtz on prior projects. She knew the team could handle the many tasks involved – and with the right touch.

“Because our goal was to make the house feel like it had not been updated, we did not want people to notice any major changes,” she says. “Holtz was definitely the right team for the job because they always listen to what the clients want.”

The interior project included painting the first floor’s walls, as well as redoing the floors both on the main level and upstairs. The original heart pine floors were refinished before they were painted, but were finished gently, both with stain and paint, to allow their history to show.

In addition to the painting, Holtz carpentry craftspeople patched stair boards, and even designed and fabricated a new stair banister. “We worked together to come up with a charming design, and they executed it perfectly,” Cox says. “It feels like it’s been there forever.”

The cottage was painted with Benjamin Moore Simply White, Cox says, because it has no undertone and looks good in all types of light exposures.

“It was really important that the painting not be so perfect,” she says, explaining that the homeowners really wanted to maintain the cozy, comfortable feel of a house that had been in their family for some time. “Because of [Holtz’s] experience with faux finishes and because they are such professional painters, they were able to get it just right.”

Despite the “normal” hiccups that come with any renovation project, Cox says, the update went very well. And working with the Holtz team makes her job easier, too.

“I know they’re going to get the job done from start to finish, and I don’t have to check in with them all the time,” she says. “They own their projects and put their heart into it and get it done. Essentially, they’re like the contractor for me – they coordinated it all.

“At the end, it turned out better than anticipated, which was really fun,” she adds. “It feels like an old river cottage that’s been there forever.”

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Painted surfaces are everywhere in a home: walls, of course, but also trim, crown molding, cabinets, shelves, and ceilings. Paint can also be used on stairs, floors, and even furniture. Every time we make a paint selection for our homes, we have to select a paint sheen – or gloss level – for that paint, which affects both durability and appearance.

The best way to approach choosing a paint sheen, says Steve Preas, Benjamin Moore’s mid-Atlantic representative, is to understand the options, which may be different depending on the brand of paint under consideration. Sheens may be called flat, matte, eggshell, pearl, satin, semi-gloss, or high gloss – with flat and matte having virtually no shine and high gloss the most shine.

“There is no standard when it comes to paint sheen,” he says. “One company might say we have a matte finish, but one person’s matte finish might be somebody’s flat finish or somebody else’s satin finish.”

What is uniform, Preas says, is that each paint sheen has its own characteristics and strengths. “The higher the sheen, the more durable it will be, because it resists fingerprints, and is moisture- and scuff-resistant,” he notes. “You want to use high sheen on high-touch surfaces, like doors, cabinets, and trim.”

Ceilings often get the lowest sheen, since they aren’t routinely touched. Low-sheen paints are also useful in covering imperfections in surfaces, like dings or nail pops commonly found on walls.

“It’s about the way the light will catch the surface,” Preas says. “The glossier the surface, the more the light reflects off it and the more light will be bounced back to your eye.”

The sheen can also seemingly affect the paint color itself.

“A matte finish can make a color seem deeper, more saturated,” Preas says. “When you go up in sheen, more light is being reflected, so it can seem a little lighter than the shade selected.”

The overall brightness of a room should also factor into both shade and sheen selection, because both natural light as well as light from lamps or wall and ceiling fixtures will affect the perceived color of walls, in particular. Preas notes that the same paint color, when painted on different walls with different light exposures, can appear as mismatched hues.

“It’s a phenomenon that can drive people crazy,” Preas says. “We have customers who notice that their crown molding looks different from the other trim in the room. It’s about the tilt of the molding and how it reflects light differently.”

Paint color can also appear to change over the course of a day or across seasons – again, because of the way the light is moving. While this shifting might seem confusing, it can also help people enjoy the space.

“We have color stories – our color collections – that play up on that dynamic way that colors change throughout the day,” he says. “Some people want it to always be that green wall. But designers like a dynamic feel. A room that can feel cool in the morning but warm and cozy in the evening.”

Many of the old “rules” of household paint are now being upended, with more homeowners using color – and even high gloss paint – on ceilings for impact. In bathrooms, which historically have been painted with a shinier finish, such as satin or semi-gloss, it’s now possible to use a Benjamin Moore matte finish, AURA Bath & Spa, specifically formulated to withstand moisture.

“You don’t have to have that shiny paint,” Preas says. “You get that true color, but not the streaks that may happen.”

The bottom line, Preas says, is to answer three foundational questions at the start: What kind of paint do you want? What color of paint do you want? What sheen of paint do you want? “You have to have those questions answered before you start,” he says. “Paint is like labor; you want to make sure you have everything agreed upon from the beginning.”



Flip through current home design magazines, and you’ll likely see spaces that feature bright and glossy surface finishes. A front door, ceiling, or bookcase topped with a high gloss paint attracts attention and becomes the best kind of talking point, one that leaves visitors impressed and you happy with your investment.

When it comes to selecting paint for your project, it’s important to be educated about the options.

Wood furniture and cabinets are often finished with a pigmented, solvent-based coating that’s called lacquer. A lacquered surface is hard, can be any sheen (or shine) level, and resists scuffs and damage. Some design professionals will use the term lacquer to refer to high gloss paint, which is different.

H.J. Holtz & Son offers two different types of high gloss paint finishes: Fine Paints of Europe’s Hollandlac Brilliant – which is oil-based – and Benjamin Moore’s Advance – which is a high gloss alkyd enamel that is water-soluble. The differences between the two matter when it comes to pricing, says Patrick Picchi, H.J. Holtz & Son project manager for painting.

“When we’re using FPE’s Hollandlac, we have to essentially build a room in a person’s home to control the smell and dust,” Picchi says. “We use plastic to separate the room [from other areas] and then use fans to keep the space clean, so dust doesn’t get onto surfaces.”

Additionally, Hollandlac requires more drying time than with waterborne paints.

“You can only do one step a day with Hollandlac, because it takes all day to dry,” Picchi says. “People want to use their kitchens, but if we’re using Fine Paints, they can’t use the kitchen at all. If we’re using waterborne paint, by the end of the day, we can clean up the kitchen, it can be used at night, and the next day, we can start all over.”

Looking for a high-impact finish, customers will often ask for high gloss lacquer paint, not realizing the challenges and cost it entails, Picchi says. “If you want a mirror-like finish, use Fine Paints Hollandlac,” Picchi says. “But for a lesser price, you can do a high gloss finish.”

In a kitchen, for example, built-in cabinets can be painted with a high gloss finish, while a freestanding island can be transported to the Holtz shop, where it can be painted with Hollandlac in a sealed, climate-controlled room. Another way to add impact is with custom furniture crafted by the Holtz carpentry division – cabinets, beverage bars, bookcases, etc. These are made in the Holtz carpentry studio and painted in the spray room before they are delivered, so there’s no disruption in the home.

In the end, it’s all about creating a look the client wants.

“Our goal is to make sure our customers are happy with the finished project,” Picchi says.



H.J. Holtz & Son master painter Kenny Ebright approaches each job the same way: hearing from homeowners what they want, assessing the situation, and getting to work.

When the firm was called in by a repeat Holtz customer to help finish the transformation of a 12-foot-by-15-foot bedroom into a high gloss library, complete with floor-to-ceiling built-ins, Ebright knew he had his work cut out for him.

“This was a big library, and it included shelves and doors,” he says. “It’s highly specialized painting, but I just focus on what’s in front of me. I’m there trying to help someone.”

Before Ebright’s work could begin, the bedroom was filled with custom woodwork by Martin-Star Cabinetry & Design. Ebright was then able to apply a high gloss orchid hue custom mixed by Fine Paints of Europe.

“The homeowner knew the color she wanted,” Ebright says. “We worked with FPE and got the formula from Vermont,” so Holtz could deliver just the right shade.

High gloss paint requires meticulous preparation and a contained environment so airborne dust and other particles don’t mar the surface. For this job, Ebright began by sanding wood that had been primed and vacuumed the area thoroughly. Then he sealed the space by closing HVAC vents, taping windows, and making a zip wall – for access – at the doorway. He placed a bucket of water inside, because the water draws debris from the air, and connected an air vent with circulator to create optimal drying conditions.

It’s a significant undertaking.

“It can feel overwhelming to start a big project like that,” Ebright says. “I’ve got to build a paint spray booth in somebody’s house, and every house is different.”

Ebright has attended multiple high gloss paint trainings and is H.J. Holtz & Son’s lead painter for the coating. The homeowner, familiar with his work on other projects in the house, requested he handle this project. Ebright was happy to oblige.

“It’s a big challenge,” he says, “but it feels good when you get it all done.”